Sunday, March 31, 2013

Backyard Lawn

The backyard has been slowly coming along. Last year I planted clover seed in an attempt to have some ground cover without having to plant a lawn. This did not really work out, some clover grew, most did not. This year I decided to plant some grass seed. My main resource for creating a lawn in the back and maintaining the front is Building a Healthy Lawn a Safe and Natural Approach

First I spent a few weeks pulling all the weeds in the area trying to get them to stop seeding and starting the sprinklers to get the moisture in the soil up. On the weekend I wanted to seed I spread sand over the area to help amend the soil. The sand was in the side yard and had been removed from the area where there used to be a pool but is now the garden. Next I purchased a 40 lb bag of gypsum to also help amend the soil. Both of these are used to help with clay soil or almost any soil to help it drain and allow more aeration. 

Next my brother tilled the soil, about 5-6 inches in to work the sand and gypsum in.

Here is the tilled soil. Last year we heavily mulched the whole yard so the soil is in pretty good condition.

Raking and removing debris came next. I tried to flatten and level soil and remove rocks, twigs, etc... Then I spread a lawn starter fertilizer and raked it lightly in.

The seed I selected was a tall fescue, I also mixed in clover seed and covered the area.

I then lightly raked over the seed and covered it with peat moss for protection from the wind and birds.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Grape Trellis

Last year I planted two grape plants. We built them a simple trellis last year that consisted of two posts and some line. The grapes did very well and over grew what was built. This year I knew they needed a larger trellis and pruning them was a good time to do it. Our primary source of information on how to prune them and different types of structures to build was The Grape Grower which I easily found at my library. We started with a trip to Home Depot where I bought two 8 foot 4x4's and a roll of 12 gauge tension wire. I use the term we loosly, my brother actually did most of the actual work. He dug two two foot holes on each side of the existing trellis the put the posts in at an angle.

Next we packed the dirt in tightly around the posts to hold them at the angle.

Next two 10 inch anchors were placed outside of the posts.

Next the old posts and cord were removed.

My brother then drilled holes in the posts for the wire.

A length of wire is attached to the post and the anchor. More wire is pulled through the holes then tightened to created the needed tension. 

Next we used some pieces of wood I had in the garage to stake the grapes and train them up. Once we had selected the branches that would be attached to the stake the others were pruned off.

And here it is, my new completed grape trellis.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Seeds, Strawberries and Rhubarb

This winter I have purchased seeds from two companies. My first choice is the Sandy Hill Preservation Center this group provides heirloom seeds and work to preserve genetic diversity. They are a very interesting company from whom we have bought seeds before and been successful. I also support their philosophy and where their seeds are coming from. The second company I purchase from (when Sandy Hill doesn't have one I am looking for) is Johnny's Seeds, they are a traditional large seed company not quite as embroiled in the GMO madness that is out there. The final company I have purchased from this year is Gurneys. I went to them to get the plants I wanted, strawberries and rhubarb. I have found it difficult to find anything other than mainstream items at the local stores and there are very few actual nursery's around any more. 

This last week my package of strawberries and rhubarb arrived. I also ordered some of their strawberry food, a fertilizer designed specifically for strawberries. I selected two types  of strawberries Eversweet and Everbearing. Both should be successful in this climate. I have not had a huge amount of success with the strawberries I have purchased from stores, most have died.

One type of strawberry has been growing but I do not remember what type it is. We did get several small strawberries last year.

The strawberries are under the rose bushes, while some are growing I want to fill this area in and have some diversity.

Each package of plants had about 25 strawberries, so all together I planted around 50 plants in this planter.

Rhubarb is something I have wanted to try to grow, I have heard it will grow out here and there are a lot of foods that can be made with it. I planted the plant between my new peach tree and the pomegranate. If successful these plants can grow fairly large.

In other planting news I did pick up some succulents to replace what was lost this winter. I have four different plants that I have put into pots. I will be keeping them close to the house till the last freeze has passed just to be safe.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Getting the garden going

This year I want to use the unused side yard for some planting, probably corn and maybe some squash will go over here. First though it has to be cleaned up. The very tall juniper trees that were in my front yard when I moved in and were removed as well as the cottonwood trees that were growing here have all just been stacked in this area. 

It is sort of a brush pile.

We began by using loppers to cut some of the smaller branches so the would fit in the green waste bin.

Of course moving all this stuff around unearthed various bugs that needed to be examined.

The larger branches are going to need to be sawed down so for now I pulled them into a separate pile.

Meanwhile the tiller has come back out and the main garden area has had its first tilling. The soil is nice and dark and smells great. The work put into in over the last two years had definitely paid off.

And how can any four year old resist a whole lot of fresh dirt.

Katie ran around in it for quite awhile, exposure to dirt is supposed to strengthen a child's immune system  plus this exhausted her so it was a win win.

In the garage this is happening

Seeds have been planted for broccoli, kale and cauliflower. So far so good....